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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Taste of Spring

Enough already.  
That's the steady refrain from all my friends and relations who live on the East Coast or in the Midwest and can't stand the thought of any more snow.  Everyone is very done with winter.

And I've heard more than one person tell me they just can't make any more soup.

There's a desperation in the air, so I will refrain from commenting on the genius of choosing to live in California and simply pass along this little taste of spring.  An asparagus recipe that's a harbinger of springtime, yet still hearty enough to eat on those remaining chilly days as winter takes its own sweet time heading out.

Apologies for the sad state of and lack of photographs.  We have a furry, little distraction that's arrived on the scene.

On to the asparagus.  This comes from the Food52 cookbook and it is called Absurdly Addictive Asparagus.  I can't quite say whether it is truly Absurdly Addictive, but I will say it's damned good.

I love asparagus, but prefer it roasted, grilled or in this case sautéed.   Pancetta and leeks give you that heartiness and the addition of toasted pine nuts is genius--just the right amount of crunch.  The fresh zing of lemon and orange zest will make you think of daffodils and sunshine.   It's the perfect thing for dinner, maybe even topped with a poached egg, whether your spring is a lion, or a lamb.

Absurdly Addictive Asparagus
Adapted from The Food52 Cookbook (by kaykay)

4 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice (I stacked some pre-sliced La Quercia pancetta)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed, sliced into 2-inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2 garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1.  In a large nonstick pan, saute the pancetta over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fat renders and pancetta is crisp and lightly golden.

2.  Add the butter to the pan, followed by the asparagus and leeks and saute utnil the asparagus is tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.

3.  Add the garlic, lemon and orange zests, pine nuts and parsley and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.   Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serves 4, but it halved nicely for two of us.